Mineral oil is often used as a laxative. For this purpose, the oil can either be taken by mouth or in the form of an enema. Mineral oil helps in treating constipation in two ways:
- By retaining the moisture in the stool.
- By acting as a lubricant.
The mineral oil coats the lining of the intestines and prevents the excess absorption of moisture from the stool which prevents it from becoming hard. It also lubricates the intestines and helps easy removal of the hardened stool.
Mineral oil is generally safer as compared to any other laxatives. When consumed by mouth, it can initiate a bowel movement in 6-8 hours, while an enema can work in just 12-15 minutes.
Warnings related to mineral oil:
Mineral oil should only be used after getting consent from your doctor if you are:
- Allergic to the ingredients in it.
- Have a blockage in your intestines.
- Are bedridden
- Have appendicitis
- Suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia
- Have kidney problems
- Experiencing sudden change in bowel habits lasting for two weeks or more.
- Have taken any laxative within the past seven days.
One should not take more than one mineral oil enema in 24 hours.
Also, do not use mineral oil for a period extending more than 7 days. Using mineral oil for an extended time as it may end up damaging the normal bowel movement making you dependent.
If you experience rectal bleeding then you should immediately stop the enema procedure. If you do not experience any bowel movement after taking mineral oil then you should narrate the same to your doctor.
Side effects related to mineral oil
Some of the common and less serious side effects of mineral oil may include:
- Mild stomach cramps
- Mild diarrhea
- Burning sensation, stinging or formation of rashes when applied topically.
Some of the serious side effects of using mineral oil which may require medical assistance are as follows:
- Absence of a bowel movement even after 6-8 hours of using the mineral oil
- Rectal bleeding
- Severe stomach cramps, pain or bloating
- Hives, rash, difficulty in breathing, swelling on the face, lips, mouth or tongue or tightness of the chest.